Friday, February 17, 2012

Google fun facts

I considered myself proficient with the Google basics. While this might be the case, the advances that Google has made really blow me away. The fact that basic and advanced math can be done right in front of you is awesome (but sucks for math teachers with students that know that). As a history teacher, I think the most interesting new thing for me was the fact that I can subtract a search term in order to get the results I am looking for. This helps sort through the junk and gets me to what otherwise might be an obscure topic.

Evernote should be everywhere

Evernote is a fantastic app. On top of being able to get rid of stickies, it's ability to be accessed on so many different devices makes it incredibly useful. This is helped by the simple fact that it is user friendly. Usability plus usefulness equals a great app.
Our students would really benefit from this and while they would hate how they were no longer able to lose their notes, it would ultimately be a great thing for them if we got universal usage out of Evernote.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Wikis are great sources of background knowledge from all sorts of sources in the world. However, with the speed and fluidity of access to today's knowledge it's all about instant gratification. Kids (and adults too, lets be honest) struggle to differentiate between when using a wiki source is acceptable and when it is not. This is not only because research habits is not taught to younger students, but because as we see every day, wikis are a path of least resistance. When we need to look something up, Google your answer and it comes up right away. Why should the academic research process be any different, or to be entirely honest, more difficult? Telling a student "Because we need to see where your information is coming from, is it credible" is like telling a math student to not only show his work, but also say when they learned it, on a problem that is easily solved in a calculator.
There is no thought process about the types of people who put information up on the internet or if they are a Harvard professor or a 10 year old who is playing on the computer.
This situation cannot be ignored but there is also little that can be done. The line between when and when not to use a wiki is so grey and the gap in the workload is so great, students will find a way to access easy sources of information for their use.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Still a bit unsure about this website, I like the idea but at this point I only really use two computers and they have different purposes. The bookmarks that I need are on each one and they don't really overlap. This could be great to bounce around sites and leave comments but as of right now I will use the RSS feeds more.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Access to the news

While the Friday News is both interesting and informative, it fails to take into account all the things that a history teacher should be aware of. Many times there is pressure for a teacher to stay at least ten steps ahead of the curve when it comes to current events. This requires an understanding of what is going on, why it is going on, and how to talk about it. It seems a bit backwards for me to get my news from my students despite the enjoyment of them being able to present something new. I may have played dumb several times and had students suggest new topics that I let them carry on about buti would have felt very uncomfortable not having a firm grasp in the material before hand.
The beauty of an RSS feed means that rather than having to surf and search, I can sit in one place and let the news (from a variety of sources) come to me where I can do all may reading and preparation.